Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The contradiction within Pakistani nationalism

Prof. Ishtiaq Ahmed describes the contradiction within Pakistani nationalism crisply.

Pakistan is not able to shed its foundational idea so easily.  After claiming Pakistan on the grounds that the Muslims of British India were a separate nation by virtue of their religion, it has proved to be impossible to turn around and say that religion is irrelevant to the state.   And if Pakistan is a Muslim state, the question immediately arises - just who is a Muslim?   In fact, this becomes the central question.  So instead of an inclusive nationalism, there is a religion-based nationalism with gradually narrowing answer to this question.

One note of interest:
Stanley Wolpert, who is considered a sympathetic biographer of Jinnah, has noted that when Jinnah was delivering his address {to the Pakistan Constituent Assembly, August 11, 1947, where he famously said that "You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the state"}  even his immediate disciples were visibly confused and shaken.{emphasis added}

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